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HBS MBA Essay Tips

Harvard Business School2017-18 Harvard MBA Essay: As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?

There is no word limit for this question. We think you know what guidance we're going to give here. Don't overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don't know your world can understand.


The HBS MBA Admissions team has gone back to an open-ended essay question, altering from last year’s specific context of a classroom environment where you have to introduce yourself to the case study group of 90 classmates. The essay is still an introduction about yourself. The goal of the essay is to find your authentic voice that summarizes the true ‘you,’ your values, what matters to you – beyond the causes and extra-curricular. The Admission team wants to know in your own words – “What drives you.”

Now let us think from the Admission team’s point of view. Two differentiating elements in the Harvard MBA curriculum are the Case Study Method and FIELD Global Immersion projects.

Case Study Method


In HBS Case study method, professors give out scenarios and roles for students to play. You might have to make a decision as a CEO, a Manager, or think like an Employee. Your decision will determine the future of your company or the competitive dynamics in your market.

50% Final Grade – Class Participation


50% of the final grade depends on your class participation. An ideal participation in a 90-member class is one where you comment every two classes. Before you join the program, professors will study your name, achievements, socio-economic background, and even evaluate your potential.

To avoid the biases of the professors from influencing the evaluation of each student, the school even manages to employ a stenographer, who notes down everything you say. In such an environment, your assertiveness and preparedness are valued.

Active Learning


By putting students on the seat of a CEO, Manager, or an Employee, HBS MBA Students get to mirror what goes through the minds of each role. Instead of learning by going through management theories, the case study method pushes students to think like how they do in real life – devoid of any unnecessary jargons, and focusing intently on the scope of the problem. The Socratic method of teaching gives the students the habit of questioning their assumptions and that of their peers and even professors. More importantly, students will realize the joy of learning.

How can you demonstrate Active Learning?

Once you mention the event that changed your life, you should narrate the initial setbacks while embarking on the new journey. Without failures, there is no learning. What you gained from the failure should be a life lesson that you took to heart.

Event: Gulf War
Template: Refugee Crisis
Heroes: Mother, Loan Officer
Active Learning: Cash Flow, Estimate profit and loss, and develop strategy
Future Contribution: To be a mentor to the disadvantaged in my community and around the world.
Value: The opportunities to share my perspective with the class, expand my skills as a leader, and develop structured thinking for effective decision-making.

Download F1GMAT's Harvard MBA Essay Guide for Sample Essay #1 (Demonstrating Active Learning)

Getting into Harvard MBA is Not Like Catching a Shooting Star

Most applicants have this strange notion that you cannot get into Harvard MBA program without climbing Mount Everest, or leading a start-up to an IPO. 

Trust us, we evaluated a few Harvard MBA Admits. They are like you, but with one difference.

They are Masters at Personal Branding.

We will teach you:

1) How you should start the essay knowing that extroversion and passion are valued in Harvard MBA?

2) How you should demonstrate Active Learning?

3) How you should demonstrate confidence in decision-making?

4) How you should demonstrate your succinct communication skills?

5) How you should demonstrate your potential as an effective FIELD team member?

Also Included in the Essay Guide:

1) Six positioning tips that you should consider for your essay.

2) Two Sample Essays

Download F1GMAT's Harvard MBA Essay Guide 2016-17

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